COCONUT CREEK, FLA. (WSVN) - Rescuers discussed the challenge of navigating dense woods to save an injured pilot whose helicopter crashed at a Coconut Creek park.
The aircraft crashed in the area of Tradewinds Park and Stables near Sample Road, shortly before 12:30 p.m., Thursday.
Officials said the pilot and the helicopter were helping out a nearby construction job move a large pipe from one side to the other when the aircraft suffered a mechanical issue.
“We knew the helicopter would be out today kind of picking up the pipe, or the construction material, from one place and transporting it to another place and dropping it off,” Coconut Creek Police spokesperson Scotty Leamon said. “At 12:07 [p.m.], something happened. I don’t know what, but something happened. The helicopter crashed into a very heavily wooded, heavily swampy area of Tradewinds Park that you can’t get to on foot.”
When the helicopter suffered the mechanical issue, officials said there were workers underneath it. The workers said the pilot heroically missed all of the workers.
7SkyForce HD hovered over the scene as fire rescue crews responded to the heavily-wooded area.
When Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue could not reach the pilot, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue crossed county lines in their own helicopter to assist in the rescue.
“This particular area was difficult, heavily wooded area,” Miami-Dade Fire Rescue flight medic Jorge Ley said. “We were about 60 feet up, so we’re trying to find the spot where I could lower my lieutenant down safely without getting tangled in the trees.”
Video from the scene of the rescue showed Miami-Dade crews below the helicopter securing the pilot and a paramedic before they headed back up to the aircraft.
“The patient was extracted, I believe, it was approximately 15 minutes from the time we arrived, we were able to rescue the victim,” Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Lt. Alexander Acosta said. “I think, overall, your training comes into play, and you get extremely focused on the objective at hand. For us, it’s years of training, and ultimately, having the assistance from those neighboring counties and cities helped tremendously.”
The pilot was extricated from the helicopter and transported to Broward Health North with injuries deemed not life-threatening.
“The bottom line is it’s non-life-threatening,” Leamon said. “The pilot did survive, so of course, that’s very good news, and now of course, it will be up to other agencies to figure out how this all happened.”
“Every call is a little bit different,” Acosta said. “It’s extremely rewarding when the outcome is a good one.”
A firefighter from Margate-Coconut Creek Fire Rescue was somehow injured and is being treated.
It appears a fire never ignited as a result of the crash.
The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the cause.
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